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strategy and tactics

Join a Picket Line?

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, October 30, 2023

Picket lines are an essential way that workers show their determination and collective power. And they are a key way that others can show their support. Environmental, environmental justice, community, and other supporters have been joining picket lines at auto plants around the country to show their solidarity with striking auto workers.

Not on strike yourself but want to help workers who are? Then a new LNS publication, “How You Can Support Striking Workers: An LNS Guide to Solidarity,” is for you. It will tell you

  • How to get informed about a strike even if you are not a participant
  • How to find out about joining a picket line
  • How to prepare to join a picket line
  • Picket line do’s and don’ts
  • Other ways to support strikers

As the Guide concludes,

When you turn out to support strikers, you are doing more than helping to win the strike. You are contributing to creating new relationships and helping create a movement based on common interests and mutual aid. 

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

The labour-environment nexus: Exploring new frontiers in labour law

'Our Stand-Up Strike Has Delivered': UAW Wins Historic Tentative Deal With Ford

By Jake Johnson - Common Dreams, October 26, 2023

Nearly six weeks into its historic strike against the Big Three U.S. car manufacturers, the United Auto Workers late Wednesday announced a tentative contract deal with Ford that includes significant wage increases and cost-of-living adjustments that were scrapped during the 2008 financial crisis.

In a statement, the UAW's leadership said the gains achieved in the deal amount to four times what workers received in the 2019 contract that recently expired. Ford's original proposal for a new contract included wage increases of just 9% while the union demanded a 46% boost, pointing to the automakers' surging profits over the past decade.

The tentative deal calls for a 25% general wage increase over four years, including an 11% boost in the first year. The UAW said the top wage under the tentative agreement would rise to more than $40 an hour over the life of the contract and the starting wage would jump to over $28 an hour—a 68% increase—thanks to cost-of-living adjustments.

More Juice?

By x364181 - Industrial Worker, October 19, 2023

Is that all labor needs?

Ever since the sharp decline of unions in the latter half of the 1900s people have been scrambling to “revive” the labor movement. The call to action gained momentum recently during the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopes were rekindled with new Amazon and Starbucks organizing attempts. People shout for more unions, more certification elections, more contracts, more workers organizing, more oomph –We mean it this time, dammit!

Convergence of Struggles

Former Union Political Director on Biden: We Do Him a FAVOR When We Push Him

How the Rural New Deal Could Shake up National Politics & Support Strong Rural Communities

Green New Deal in the Cities, Part 2: Need and Opportunity

By Jeremey Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, September 30, 2023

As Part 1 of “The Green New Deal in the Cities” demonstrated, cities have enormous opportunities to establish Green New Deal-type programs – and an enormous need to do so. Worldwide, cities produce more than 70% of carbon emissions. US cities are marked by extremes of climate change vulnerability and extremes of wealth and poverty. And as shown by this series’ accounts of the Green New Deals in Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle, cities have the capacity to realize much of the Green New Deal program of creating jobs and justice by protecting the climate.

Unfortunately, in many cities that capacity is not being used. Each year the research organization the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy issues a “City Clean Energy Scorecard,” which has become a principal resource for tracking clean energy plans, policies, and progress in large US cities. Its 2021 report found that, of the 100 cities surveyed, 63 had adopted a community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) goal; 38 had released enough data to assess progress toward their goals; and only 19 cities were on track to achieve their near-term GHS goals. Of the 177 new clean energy actions they reviewed, 38% related to adoption of a clean energy plan, partnership, goal, or governmental procedure. 34% were designed to improve energy efficiency of buildings. 28% promoted clean energy infrastructure. Less than 20% were equity-driven initiatives.

The Scorecard identified leading cities across five policy areas:

Community-wide initiatives: Seattle, San Jose, Denver, and Washington, D.C. have set GHG reduction goals; adopted strategies to mitigate the heat island effect; and pursued community engagement with historically marginalized groups.

Buildings: Denver, New York, and Seattle have established stringent building energy codes and requirements for energy performance in large existing buildings.

Transportation: San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Boston have instituted location efficiency strategies, more efficient modes of transportation, transit and electric vehicle infrastructure investments, and have used transportation planning to reduce the isolation of historically marginalized communities.

Energy and water: Boston and San Jose have effective energy efficiency programs; programs to decarbonize the electric grid and reduce GHG emissions; and programs to simultaneously save water and energy.

Viewpoint: With No Reform Caucus, Auto Workers Would Not Be on Strike

By Jane Slaughter - Labor Notes, September 26, 2023

What can workers seeking to reinvigorate their unions learn from the new spirit in the United Auto Workers?

START WITH WHAT YOU'VE GOT

One lesson is that member power does not have to start from a supermajority; that’s unlikely. UAW members are on strike today, with inspiring levels of rank-and-file energy, because four years ago a small group of activists founded a new reform caucus. That caucus, Unite All Workers for Democracy (UAWD), boldly took advantage of an unexpected opportunity, organized like crazy, and won elections. Its candidates are now leading the union.

If UAWD had not existed and organized hard, this current fight that has potential to change the stakes for the entire labor movement would not be happening. At the top, the UAW would still be a pretty bad business union, intent on negotiating a cheap contract (perhaps with a b.s. strike), and members would be in the dark.

When the Justice Department began investigating the UAW for corruption, a few longtime activists saw the opening. In 2019, they founded UAWD and began a campaign—which seemed quixotic at the time—to change the UAW’s constitution so that members could vote directly for top officers.

Since the union’s founding in the 1930s, convention delegates had chosen the officers. From the 1940s until this year conventions were tightly managed by the aptly named Administration Caucus, founded by Walter Reuther. The process for amending the constitution is byzantine, but in a short time UAWD was approaching its goal of getting the required 15 locals representing 79,000 members on board to call a special convention. Then Covid hit, canceling local union meetings and closing plants.

UAWD rebounded, though, and was soon making its views known to the Justice Department: the way to clear out corruption was to let the members vote. This was the same tack taken by Teamsters for a Democratic Union in the 1980s, when their union was under investigation. TDU rejected the idea of a federal takeover, as many in government had advocated, and said instead: “Let the members decide.” The feds authorized a rank-and-file vote, Ron Carey was elected president with TDU’s support, and he went on to lead a stunningly popular and successful strike in 1997.

The UAW Strike with Jane Slaughter

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